Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. When this gel first hit the market, we were prone to believe it would stop all germs in their tracks. However, in certain situations, soap and water are not available. When this occurs, according to the CDC, using alcohol -based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can be effective. Alcohol concentration between 60-90% can successfully help kill germs. When correctly used, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can kill many types of microbes, understand that soap and water are most effective at killing more strains of germs. Application must involve spreading the sanitizer over the entire hand. However, when the hands are too greasy or soiled, sanitizer will not be as effective. They also do not remove harmful chemicals such as pesticides.
Hand sanitizers are now found everywhere. They’re in hospitals, bathrooms, restaurants, and in the workplace. It is a convenient alternative. Some people now use them multiple times per day. Therefore, the FDA wants to be certain that these products are safe and effective. Many of the labels read that the product kills 99.999% of germs, but the FDA wants better research on this. At this point, when the sanitizer contains 60-65% alcohol, it is just like putting moonshine alcohol on the hands and the germs will be killed. There is some evidence that hand sanitizers don’t protect from norovirus which is the most common cause of the flu.
The Global Hygiene Council recommends washing the hands with soap and water at minimum six times per day. Considering a person eats at least three times per day and uses the restroom, this number is realistic. Hand washing should be performed:
- Before eating food
- Before and after preparing food
- After using the toilet
- Before or after treating a cut or wound
- After touching an animal
- After touching garbage
- After coughing, sneezing, or blowing the nose
- After being around or helping someone who is sick
- After changing diapers
The hands should be lathered and scrubbed for at least 20 seconds. They should then be rinsed and dried. Hand sanitizers do reduce the number of germs, but not as well as hand washing can do. Hand sanitizers should be rubbed all over the hands and then air dried. It most situations, the bottom line is that when soap and water aren’t available it is much better than nothing to use alcohol- based hand sanitizer. There are many types and brands available today, some with different scents and colors. The important part is to look for at least 60% alcohol content and to make sure the entire hand has been in contact with the gel. Otherwise, just like mom and dad had us do, soap and water is the best option.